How can you get your hands on a golden visa and make your move to the UAE? Here’s everything you need to know.
More than 200,000 ex-pats make their way to Dubai each year, and 88 percent of Abu Dhabi’s 10 million residents come from abroad. So, if you’re considering an international move to the United Arab Emirates – in these cities or to another destination – you are not alone.
But moving abroad isn’t as simple as buying a plane ticket, packing up all of your things, and heading overseas. To make your move legal – find a place to live, obtain work, and everything in between – you will need a visa.
In the UAE, you have several options when it comes to visas. Perhaps you’ve heard people talk about the so-called golden visa that some residents of this Middle Eastern nation carry.
What is the Golden Visa?
The golden visa is just a nickname for the long-term residence visa given to those who move from another country to live in the UAE. Perhaps that’s why it’s considered “golden” – having this visa means you can stick around in the country for 5 to 10 years, which gives you a lot of stability as an ex-pat.
As you might imagine, though, not just anyone can apply for the golden visa. To be able to stay in the UAE for that long, you have to fit into a certain category of applicant.
Who Can Obtain the Golden Visa?
You can get the golden visa if, for starters, you are willing to make an investment in the UAE. With this option, you don’t need a sponsor for your visa, which is great news if your work or studies don’t qualify you for the visa you seek (more on those options later).
Investors must put at least AED 10 million into the UAE’s public sector, which roughly equates to £2.3 million as of July 2022. You have a number of options as to how to make qualifying investments.
For starters, you can show that you have accredited investment funds ready to use in the UAE. You can also want to show that you have an industrial or commercial licence as an investor with a notation that your entity has at least AED 10 million of capital paid already. If you don’t set up your own company, you can show that you have been made a partner in a company, so long as that company has given you at least AED 10 million in shares already.
When you apply for this visa, you will have to prove that none of the money you have invested has been loaned to you. You also have to maintain the money you’ve invested for at least three years.
If you opt to go the investment route, you get the added benefit of adding family members to your golden visa application. So, you can bring your spouse and any dependents — great news if you plan to start a new life in the UAE. You can also bring an executive director and advisor on your visa.
Multiple investors can apply under the same golden visa application, too. However, each one must show that they have AED10 million to invested, or that they have invested that much already.
In return, though, the pay-off is huge. You can get a 10-year residency visa if you go the investor visa route.
If you’d like Dubai or Abu Dhabi to be the home of your start-up, you’re in luck. You just need to prove that one of the following conditions applies:
- You are a partner or owner of a start-up that’s registered with the UAE as a small or medium enterprise and has an annual revenue of at least AED 1 million.
- You have obtained approval for your start-up idea from the Ministry of Economy, local authority or a business incubator.
- You have started and sold an entrepreneurial venture that sold for at least AED 7 million.
The good news is that, for business people, there’s plenty of help out there when it comes to starting your business in the UAE. Click here to learn more about how we can help you get your foot in the door.
Buying property in the UAE qualifies you for a golden visa, too, although it gives you half the time that an investor visa does. In exchange for a £1.1 million investment in property, you can get a five-year visa.
Again, you must prove that you haven’t had the money loaned to you. On top of that, you have to maintain your investment in your chosen property for at least three years.
You can apply for the golden visa if you have retired – and are able to make a solid investment in Dubai, although it only has to be half of what investors put in.
If you are at least 55 years old and retired, you can get a golden visa with a AED 1 million investment, which is £228,000 at the time of writing this article. You can also obtain the retiree golden visa if you still have an income of at least AED 15,000 each month, which equates to about £3,400 monthly.
A golden visa could be yours if you have specialist knowledge in the field of science. You can get a 10-year golden visa if you qualify under any of the following categories:
Inventors with a patent can obtain a UAE golden visa. The Ministry of Economy must decide if that patent has value for the country’s economy; if so, you will qualify.
Much like inventors, scientists must receive accreditation from the Emirates Scientists Council before obtaining a 10-year visa. The same goes for those who have won the Mohammed Bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence, the highest Emirati honour for experts in these fields.
Doctors or Medical Specialists
You can get a 10-year UAE visa as a doctor or specialist if at least one of the following statements applies to you:
- You have a PhD from one of the world’s top 500 universities.
- You have a PhD from any institution and 10 years of related professional experience.
- You hold membership to a professional organisation related to your field.
- You have awards related to your field.
- You’re a published author – books or articles – and your writing is related to your area of expertise.
- Your specialisation is one that’s a priority to the UAE.
With at least one of these criteria met, you may qualify for the golden visa. The more you have, the better!
Interestingly, creatives can also earn a golden visa. Their work has to be accredited by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development first.
Finally, if you are a student with dreams of moving to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, your vision may not be too far off. You just have to keep your grades up!
The top students at the university level can also apply for long-term residency in the UAE. This applies to students attending schools in the country and internationally. You will have to prove that you had:
- Grades of at least 95 percent at secondary school (public or private)
- A minimum GPA of 3.75 at university, whether you studied in the UAE or internationally
Students can apply for a five-year golden visa. If you fall into this or any of the above categories, you can apply for your golden visa online. Click here to visit the Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security’s website.
What Do I Need to Apply for My Golden Visa?
We’ve gone over who can apply for the golden visa. Now, it’s time to cover what you’ll need when it’s time to do all of the paperwork.
Before you can apply for a residence visa of any sort in the UAE, you will need to have an entry permit. To get an entry permit, you need the following:
- A valid passport, and a copy of it
- Passport-sized photos, which will go on your permit
- A bank statement that covers the six months prior to your application
Documents related to your purpose for applying for your
visa; for example:
- A copy of your company trade licence
- A copy of the partnership contract for your new role in the UAE
- Identification (passport copies) for all of the other investors
- If you’re starting an LLC, a copy of the Memorandum of Association
- For specialised applicants, proof that your talents have been accredited by the designated authority
- For inventors, proof of your patent
This is not a complete list of the documents you may need – be sure to check the appropriate government websites to make sure you have everything you need.
If you are applying as a business, you can find help to get you through the application process, too. This will incur an additional cost, of course, but it’s worth it to have peace of mind that your new venture is set up properly and that the visa process will go as smoothly as possible.
Long-Term Residency – The Golden Visa
Once you are in the UAE, you can go ahead with your application for your residence permit. In general, you will need to provide:
- Your entry permit
- Passport photos
- A copy of a medical test
- Your passport
- An immigration establishment card
- Further documentation to show your purpose of moving to and staying in the UAE
Again, the requirements here may change. But you should keep this in mind as a general outline of what you’ll need. Gather them sooner rather than later once you’re in the UAE so that you can get your paperwork and residency settled as soon as possible.
How Much Does the Golden Visa Cost?
As you can guess, applying for the golden visa does come with a cost, which varies depending on the type and scope of your visa. It’s cheaper to apply from inside of the UAE than it is from the outside, generally.
If you are already in the UAE and apply for a golden visa, it will cost between AED 2,800 and 3,800. If you are not in the UAE at the time of application, it will cost from AED 3,800 up to AED 4,800.
What Are the Rules of the Golden Visa?
Once you have the golden visa, you are free to travel in and out of the UAE as you please. In the past, you would have to spend at least six months a year in the UAE. However, that rule has been changed — you can spend as much or as little time there as you please.
As we noted previously, certain golden visa holders can sponsor their family members, too. You can also sponsor domestic help and certain professional employees, should you be starting a business.
Interestingly, the golden visa takes into consideration death and bereavement, too. If the golden visa holder passes away and they have sponsored family through their own paperwork, their family can stay in the UAE through the end of their visa, in spite of the loss of their sponsor.
I’m Ready to Start a Business in the UAE
Now that you’ve learned the basics of the golden visa, are you ready to make your move? If so, we can help you get started in setting up your business abroad.
We’re specialised in bringing start-ups to Dubai, which has become a hot spot for entrepreneurs — the world’s start-up capital. Click here to contact us today to see how we can help you bring your business goals to fruition from this amazing city.